Life gets even tougher for eels

15 Mar 2010

By Ann Graeme

In DOC’s own words, the endemic longfin eel is as special as the
kiwi. Eel numbers have dwindled as their rivers are barred by dams,
their wetlands cleared and commercial fishers sell them by the
tonne to Asian markets.

So it beggars belief that DOC, charged with protecting our native
wildlife, has issued three five-year concessions for commercial eel
fishing within DOC land on the West Coast.

The effect of fishing is particularly severe on species with a long life
cycle, and few have a longer cycle than the longfin eel.

She will be at least 70 years old before she swims downstream on
her long migration to the breeding grounds near Tonga. She may
even live to be 100 – if the fishermen
don’t catch her first.

Scarcely any eels now live that long. Fewer and fewer little eels will survive to
return to our shores and grow into the next generation, and that number
will be even less now that the last eel sanctuaries in DOC land
have been opened up to plunder.

This makes a mockery of our petition, Lifeline for Longfins, asking
for a moratorium on the commercial fishing of longfins, and already
signed by 1500 people.

Meanwhile Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson says it’s legal and
you can “certainly go hunting on DOC land”.

But this isn’t deer, Ms Wilkinson, this is a declining native species.

Please write asking her to honour the Conservation Act and protect
our threatened longfin eels instead of condemning them to extinction
for the paltry fishing licence fees: